To our friends and family: Greetings!

2014 was slightly quieter than last year. Jim tapered off to zero days of work a week due to his company moving from dormancy to coma. MM still has a few paying jobs.

Since our onions predicted a normal Upstate Winter (cold & snowy), we decided to go to warmer mountains this year. We started with a cruise in the Hawaiian Islands, which we had never seen. Along with the usual tourist places, we saw Wheeler Field where Louis Van Hout was on 7th December 1941. We also spent a week on Moloka'i where there are no malls. We took a mule ride down to the leper colony of St. Damien de Veuster and St. Marianne Cope. Marianne grew up near us and taught in our parish school, and we went to her canonization. Photos are here. (We decided to put them in albums instead of cluttering our newsletter.)

When we returned it was still winter, so we went to Burbank for our nephew Daniel Casey's wedding (photos here). We visited Jim's Forhan clan which we do every 40 years. Then we took a road trip from LA to Seattle where Jim's brother John and family live. On the way we saw Fr. Athanasius, our Uganda tour guide; MM's cousins Ron & Marilyn, Jim's brother Mike; Herbie (Malaki) Hill, our Fresh Air kid-all-grown-up; MM's teacher-friend Alma from St John Hospital days; and MM's cousin Jake, who died soon after. And a lot of surf, mountains, giant trees, Spring and tulips. Fantastic! A few pictures are here.

We spent the summer gardening, fixing up the house (siding, walkway, some indoor painting), and going to the Van Hout Reunion in Washington, DC (have a look here), by way of London, Ontario, where MM's cousin Fay lives; Michigan (Jim's Dad will be 93 this month); and Ohio (Fr. Oen and Judy Jacomet). Our 40th Anniversary was celebrated at the Reunion. Great! Our lives are always full of fun-with-the-kids-and-grandkids!  A few pictures of our miscellaneous activities can be found here.

It is always party time with Leo's family where the year began with the big move from their beloved house of 11 years. They are now in Webster about a mile south of Lake Ontario. Their vacation trip hit the trifecta of family, education, and thrills with the reunion in Washington DC and a day in Hershey Park. They have added a new kitten, Luna, to keep their dog, Rudy, company.

Little Vaughn just turned 3 and is sports crazy despite hardly watching TV. He is enrolled in soccer but his heart is in hockey. He is a talkative extrovert who makes friends wherever he goes. Both Annika (7) and Avery (9) play softball, soccer, and participate in ice skating, drama kids, and Girl Scouts. Annika plays piano and is ambitious in everything she does. Avery celebrated her First Communion, plays violin, and loves to read. Katie is on the Parent-Teacher's committee at school and is in charge of most of the big activities. She coached Annika's soccer and efficiently keeps this busy family coordinated. Leo is enjoying selling endoscopy equipment as the world rapidly gravitates to minimally invasive surgery. He coached softball and soccer and is extending the sports season by building a backyard ice rink to complement the giant swingset that the three generations of Van Damme males built in the summer.

Get your internet search ready...Jan-Luc swore off the coldest, iciest New York City winter ever with a vacation to Puerto Rico in February. In March he exploded into Los Angeles for Dan Casey's wedding (and to a lesser extent - Universal Studios). Indie game developers packed his Arcade 3000 show for Bushwick Open Studios, a neighborhood wide event in June. In October he took a Halloweeny vacation up the Hudson River valley with his girlfriend Olivia. At home he can be found with his face in the inspiring Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard. He released an interactive adventure comic for iPhone and is working on his first arcade game for all mobile platforms. Between all this he works on TV commercials and magazine photoshoots. He loves you and handsomely resides with Olivia in Brooklyn, NY. janlucvd at

Marieke and Curt had another amazing year. While still on the University of Michigan's Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship in Ann Arbor, they spent five weeks in December/January visiting South America (walking on an island with penguins in Tierra del Fuego to celebrate their wedding anniversary was a highlight), two weeks in March exploring the fascinatingly complex country of Turkey, and one week in May in the unsurpassed beauty of northern Michigan. Despite the record-setting cold and snow, they loved their time in Michigan and emerged from the experience wiser, closer to family, and with over two dozen new best friends from the fellowship.

After returning to Boston in the summer, Curt resumed his duties at WBUR, Boston's NPR news station covering business and technology. He recently traveled to Berlin to cover the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Marieke got a fundraising job at the Trustees of Reservations, a state-wide land trust where she serves as Director of Annual Giving. She still serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club, a local non-profit, and recently launched a project called Joyful Museums, where she studies workplace culture in museums ( This year's wedding anniversary will not have penguins as they plan to spend it packing for their January trip to Hawaii with Curt's family. They still want to see you when you come to Boston.

It's been a busy year for Kateri. She started off by going to Bakersfield, CA to volunteer for a OneSight clinic through her job at Lenscrafters. For a week she got to make glasses for children in need. Other than that, life at Lenscrafters has been pretty normal. The Carmelcorn Shoppe that her boyfriend, Laford, owns, and where she works at also, had an exciting year. In April they expanded and opened a new store in the mall. It's a bit of an experiment and offers different popcorn. Their original store went through a remodel in May, getting a much needed revamp. It's hard to get away, but Kateri, Laford and Laford's son Alex, all managed to make it to the family reunion in Washington DC.

We're still teaching NFP classes online. MM is still excited about genealogy. Email us at vandammes at (Jim) or vandammetunk at (MM). We hope you are healthy and happy. Best wishes for 2015!

Jim, Mary Margaret/Tunkin, Leo & Katie & Avery & Annika & Vaughn, Jan-Luc, Marieke & Curt, and Kateri

Back to our home page